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Blowing the whistle: NBA refs remain inconsistent with late-game calls

Blowing the whistle: NBA refs remain inconsistent with late-game calls

LeBron James is right. So is Dwyane Wade. The last two-minute reports by the NBA, while a good faith effort at more transparency by under Commissioner Adam Silver, don't make a lot of sense. They only serve to heighten the bad taste of blown calls and unless they produce radical change in how games are officiated late, so what?

Today, the league concluded that in Game 7 of Indiana Pacers vs. the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan got away with a shove in the lower back of Ian Mahinmi who was lobbed a pass in the final 16.6 seconds by Paul George. Instead of a basket or two free throws to trim the deficit to one point, DeRozan collected the ball and was awarded two foul shots himself. The Pacers could've trimmed the deficit to 87-86.

What makes the no-call even harder to fathom was they were the only two people under the basket. It wasn't a crowded house that made the infraction difficult to see. And consider with 3:51 left, George was correctly called for extending his arm to clear out DeRozan on a drive for a layup on a fast break.   

NBA officials don’t do themselves any favors when they opt to “swallow the whistle” in the last few minutes of the games to supposedly let the players decide the outcome. And it begs the question, "What about the prior 46 minutes?" Those calls matter and impact outcomes, too, such as on a fifth foul that sends the hot hand to the bench.

How can the DeRozan's foul be overlooked when the Wizards lost 100-99 to the Pacers when George was said to be fouled with three seconds left -- the NBA determined in it's final two-minute report that it was a correct call -- on contact that was minimal by comparison? George made both foul shots to end that March 5 game for the victory that proved to be a turning point in the Wizards' season as they failed to get over .500. Wade was struck on his final shot attempt in Game 5 of the Miami Heat's playoff loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The NBA's report concluded it was a correct no-call.

What's the difference? Both were 50-50 calls. In one, the officals opted to blow the whistle in favor of a superstar player (George). In the other, the officals opted to not blow the whistle in favor of a superstar player (Wade). The "superstar" call narrative doesn't apply and is generally overblown because late in games, superstars -- not role players -- will have the ball therefore they will get more calls. 

The issue is the inconsisent application of the rules late in games as if it's a special circumstance such as no blood therefore no foul.

The officiating reports on games in which the margin is five points or less at exactly the 2:00 mark are made public. That includes the entire five minutes of any overtime periods, too. That Silver's administration is open to sharing that is commendable.

The attitudes of Wade and James, however, are pretty consistent among players and coaches around the league. They all want to know, as then-Wizards coach Randy Wittman said when asked about 14 missed/incorrect calls at the end of a double OT loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, “What are you going to do about it?”

That "you" is a challenge to the NBA. If the league wants to inspire confidence in the officiating it should release the entire game reports and give explanations that incorporate logic. For instance, if touch fouls are being called all game based on that particular crew assigned to it, those same fouls have to be called late. Otherwise, how can players adjust to the officials? 

All officials aren't made the same and aren't going to call every situation the same. But what they can do is pick a side of the fence and stay there. The old-school attitude to “let players decide the game” late is asking for trouble in today's media landscape where everything is easy to dissect and reveal the contradictions.

Just call the game the same for 48 minutes. Maybe Mahinmi misses both foul shots and no one is talking about this the morning after. Make the entire reports official or not at all. And as Wittman correctly pointed out, explain what is being done to correct those problem areas to make the quality of the game better.

If the latter doesn't happen, then James is right. It's all "pointless."


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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)



Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets


Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves


Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.


Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.


Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.


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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.


Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.